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Calendar No. 55
109th Congress Report
1st Session 109-40
NORTHERN ARIZONA LAND EXCHANGE AND VERDE RIVER BASIN PARTNERSHIP ACT OF
March 16, 2005.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 161]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 161) to provide for a land exchange in
the State of Arizona between the Secretary of Agriculture and
Yavapai Ranch Limited Partnership, having considered the same,
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that
the bill do pass.
PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE
The purpose of S. 161 is to provide for a land exchange in
the State of Arizona between the Secretary of Agriculture and
Yavapai Ranch Limited Partnership.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
Located at the north end of the Prescott National Forest
the Yavapai Ranch covers approximately 170 square miles in
north-central Arizona. The Forest Service and the ranch owner,
Yavapai Ranch Limited Partnership (YRLP), currently own
alternate square-mile sections of the ranch in ``checkerboard''
land ownership pattern. The Vavapai Ranch is the last large
mixed-ownership pattern in Arizona.
The land exchange authorized in S. 161 would consolidate
the checkerboard so that both the Forest Service and YRLP would
have more manageable lands in the future. Under the exchange,
YRLP will convey approximately 35,000 acres (approximately 55
square miles) to the Forest Service. This will enable the
Forest Service to block up approximately 110 square miles of
land (totaling over 70,000 acres) into Forest Service ownership
for permanent public use and enjoyment. The lands to be
acquired by the Forest Service include significant stands of
old growth ponderosa pine and alligator juniper trees,
important undeveloped habitat for pronghorn antelope and other
wildlife and a portion of the upper watershed of the Verde
River. Additionally, the land being consolidated into Forest
Service ownership lies adjacent to the Juniper Mesa Wilderness
area, and comprises largely undeveloped and open space. S. 161
also addresses future water use. The exchange will reduce the
subdividable and developable land base in the upper Verde River
watershed (Big Cheno aquifer) by roughly 20,000 acres and
thereby protect water resources and flows.
In return for receiving the 35,000 acres of the Yavapai
Ranch holdings, the Forest Service will convey to the Yavapai
Ranch: (1) approximately 15,300 acres of land on the ranch
checkerboard which is generally of lesser value than that
acquired by the Forest Service; and (2) approximately 5,900
acres in or near the communities of Flagstaff, Williams, Camp
Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, and Prescott. Many of the lands
being conveyed to the Yavapai Ranch in those communities are
currently encumbered by Forest Service special use permits for
municipal airports, water and sewage treatment facilities,
parks, a golf course and other municipal or summer camp uses.
Those lands will be transferred from Yavapai Ranch to the
municipalities and summer camps so that they can own and use
the lands they currently lease for the Forest Service.
In terms of the exchange process, the land exchange
directed by S. 161 requires: (1) fair market value appraisal
standards (the Uniform Standards of Appraisal for Federal Land
Acquisitions and the Uniform Standards of Professional
Appraisal Practice); (2) formal review and approval of all
appraisals by the Secretary of Agriculture; (3) completion of
standard surveys, inventories, clearances and approvals
relating to threatened and endangered species, cultural and
historic resources, hazardous materials, and wetlands and
floodplains; and (4) traditional title reviews and analyses,
which must be approved by the Forest Service. These
requirements are all preconditions toconsummation of the
Finally, S. 161 requires that the lands ultimately
exchanged will be of equal value, either by making adjustments
in the Federal and non-Federal lands exchanged, or through cash
S. 161 was introduced by Senator McCain for himself and
Senator Kyl on January 23, 2005. A similar bill (S. 849) was
introduced in the 108th Congress by Senator McCain and Senator
Kyl on April 9, 2003. The Subcommittee on Public Lands and
Forests held a hearing on S. 849 on September 11, 2003 (S. Hrg.
108-196). The Senate passed S. 849 as an amendment to H.R. 620
(S. Amdt. 4048) by unanimous consent on December 7, 2004.
Congressman Renzi sponsored a companion measure, H.R. 2907,
which passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote on
October 18, 2003. The bill was not acted on in the Senate.
A similar measure (H.R. 5513) was introduced by
Representative Hayworth and others in the 107th Session of
Congress. The House Resource Subcommittee on Forest and Forest
Health held a hearing on H.R. 5513 on October 10, 2002. On
November 11, 2002, the House of Representatives discharged,
with an amendment, H.R. 5513 by unanimous consent. The House of
Representatives passed the bill by unanimous consent on
November 15, 2002. The Senate did not take up the bill before
the close of the 107th Congress.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an open
business session on February 16, 2005, by a unanimous vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 161, if
amended as described herein.
Section 1 provides the short title and the table of
contents for the Act.
TITLE I--NORTHERN ARIZONA LAND EXCHANGE
Section 101 definition of key terms used in the Act.
Section 102(a) directs the Secretary of Agriculture to
convey Federal lands identified in section 104 to Yavapai Ranch
upon receipt on Yavapai Ranch's conveyance of non-Federal lands
to the Secretary. Title to the lands to be exchanged shall be
in a form acceptable to the Secretary and Yavapai Ranch and may
be modified as provided in this Act. Minor technical
corrections to the maps and legal descriptions may be made, if
mutually agreed to. If a discrepancy exists between the maps
and legal description, the maps shall prevail, unless the
Secretary and Yavapai agree otherwise.
Subsection (b) provided that the exchange shall be carried
out in accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management
Act. All land surveys, pre-exchange inventories, clearances,
reviews, and approvals, including those related to hazardous
material, threatened and endangered species, cultural and
historic resources and wet lands and flood plains, must be
completed prior to the exchange.
Subsection (c) requires that the value of the lands to be
exchanged be equal and includes a list of properties to be
deleted if the final appraisal values are not equal.
Subsection (d) requires the value of the lands to be
exchanged to be determined by uniform appraisal standards. For
a three-year period following the Secretary's approval of the
final appraisal values, the Secretary shall not be required to
reappraise or update the appraisal values prior to the
completion of the land exchange. The appraiser shall determine
the value of each parcel of Federal and non-Federal land as an
assembled transaction. The Secretary is directed to provide
public notice of the approved appraisals and to provide copies
of the appraisals to the cities and owners of camps described
in section 101(1).
Subsection (e) authorizes the Secretary to allow Yavapai
Ranch to contract independent third parties to complete work
necessary to complete the exchange and directs the Secretary to
reimburse Yavapai Ranch for the cost of the third-party
Subsection (f) provides that the exchange shall be subject
to easements, rights-of-way or other valid encumbrances in
existence on the date of enactment.
Subsection (g) authorizes the owners of camps and cities to
enter into agreements with Yavapai Ranch whereby Yavapai Ranch
will convey the affected parcel to the camps or city at the
conclusion of the land exchange. If the cities and camps and
the Yavapai Ranch have not signed the agreements 30 days after
appraisals have been made public, the Secretary is directed to
delete the parcels from the exchange and offer them for sale to
the respective cities or camps.
Paragraph three directs the Secretary to convey all rights
and title to the deleted parcels for fair market value to the
specified camp or city. The owners of the deleted parcels are
required to reimburse Yavapai Ranch for costs incurred directly
associated with surveys and appraisals upon receipt of title to
The Secretary is to deposit the proceeds of the sale of
parcels in the Sisk Act account to be expended for acquisition
of land in the State of Arizona.
Section 103(a) describes 35,000 acres of non-Federal lands
to be exchanged.
Subsection (b) lists easements reserved by Yavapai Ranch,
including water rights, wells, storage tanks, and pipelines, as
well as 40 acres around each of three identified wells. The
subsection provides that the United States shall be entitled to
one half of the production of the 3 wells, up to 3.1 million
gallons of water annually, and describes the location of the
easements on the referenced map.
Section 104(a) describes the 19,465.76 acres of Federal
lands on the Prescott, Coconino, and KaibabNational Forests to
be exchanged, as depicted on a series of maps.
Subsection (b) authorizes the Secretary to enter into a
memorandum of understanding with the State of Arizona, or a
political subdivision of the State, to enforce the terms of
conservation easements that prohibit the current or future
owners of the Camp Verde General Cook parcel (one of the
parcels to be conveyed to Yavapai Ranch) from golf course
development, requires that any green-belt or public park be
watered with treated wastewater, be limited to not more than
300 acre-feet of water per year, and that any water used for
the parcel not be withdrawn from wells perforated in the
saturated Holocene alluvium of the Verde River.
Section 105 contains several provisions concerning the
management of the non-Federal lands being acquired by the
Secretary, including direction on grazing, timber harvesting,
and forest health projects.
Section 106 directs the Secretary to revoke existing public
orders on Federal lands to be exchanged; withdraws Federal
lands to be conveyed from all forms of entry and appropriation
under the public land, mining, and mineral leasing laws until
the exchange is completed; and states that it is the intention
of Congress that the exchange be complete within 18 months
after enactment of the Act.
Section 107 directs the Secretary to convey, by quitclaim
deed, a small parcel of land in Coconino County to correct a
minor boundary conflict between several adjacent landowners and
the national forest boundary. The land is to be sold for $2,500
to a person representing a majority of the affected landowners.
TITLE II--VERDE RIVER BASIN PARTNERSHIP
Section 201 describes the purposes of the title.
Section 202 defines the terms used in the title.
Section 203 authorizes the Secretary to participate in the
establishment of the Verde River Basin Partnership and
authorizes the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to
be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out the
activities of the Partnership for fiscal years 2006 through
2010. The purpose of the Partnership is to coordinate and
cooperate in the identification and implementation of
comprehensive science-based policies, projects and management
activities relating to the Verde River Basin in Arizona.
Section 204 describes the work and studies to be completed
by the Partnership and directs the studies be transmitted to
the Secretary of Agriculture, the Governor of Arizona and
representatives of Verde Valley communities within 16 months
after enactment of the Act.
Section 205 describes the contents to be included in the
final report to be transmitted to the Secretary and Governor of
Arizona not later than 4 years after the enactment of the Act.
Section 206 directs the Secretary of the Interior and the
Secretary of Agriculture to enter into a memorandum of
understanding to allow the United States Geological Survey to
access Forest Service land to carry out this title of the Act.
Section 207 clarifies that nothing in this title diminishes
or expands State or local jurisdiction, or rights with respect
to water resource management or control.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The Congressional Budget Office estimate of the costs of
this measure has been requested, but was not received at the
time the report was filed. When the report is available, the
Chairman will request it to be printed in the Congressional
Record for the advice of the Senate.
REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 161.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 161, as ordered reported.
The views of the Administration were included in testimony
received by the Committee at a hearing on S. 849 in the 108th
Congress on July 21, 2004, as follows:
Statement of Mark Rey, Under Secretary, Natural Resources and
Environment, United States Department of Agriculture
S. 849--the Northern Arizona National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2003
The Department supports the concept of a land exchange
between Yavapai Ranch Limited Partnership, the Northern
Yavapai, L.L.C. and the Forest Service, which would consolidate
the largest remaining checkerboard ownership in Arizona. We do
however, have some concerns related to the parcel deletion
order and enforcement provisions associated with the
conservation easements and would like to work with the
committee on some clarifications.
S. 849 would authorize the exchange of approximately 55,000
acres of Federal and non-Federal land in the State of Arizona
between the Secretary of Agriculture and Yavapai Ranch Limited
Partnership. Pass-through provisions allow for some of the
Federal land acquired by Yavapai Ranch Limited Partnership and
the Northern Yavapai L.L.C. to be reconveyed to the cities of
Flagstaff, Williams, and Camp Verde, Arizona, or to summer
organizational camps identified in the bill.
This exchange can offer substantial benefits to all parties
involved. The Forest units involved would benefit from
simplified boundary management, reduced administrative costs,
and the acquisition of lands adjacent to the Juniper Mesa
Wilderness, which has significant forest, wildlife, and
recreation values. Consolidating 110 square miles into solid
Forest Service ownership is a significant gain from both
administrative and resource standpoints.
The Department has suggestions to improve one section in
the bill. Section 4 in S. 849 establishes conservation
easements on the Camp Verde and Cottonwood parcels. These
parcels are located on the Prescott National Forest. S. 849
needs greater detail concerning: (1) how a memorandum of
understanding with the State of Arizona will be developed to
enforce the conservation easements; (2) when the memorandum
will take effect and for how long; and (3) how the Federal
Government will be removed from liability. We would be happy to
work with the committee and the bill authors to provide
In addition, the Department is concerned that the
evaluation of the Federal parcels due to the conservation
easements could result in the transfer of far more Federal land
to the owners of the Yavapai Ranch and its related limited
liability corporation than would otherwise occur if the market
value of the Federal estate were fully and fairly valued, but
the Federal government will hold these conservation easements
* * * * * * *
changes in existing law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 161, as ordered